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Jun 1, 2012, 1:36 PM | Article By: Adelaide Mendy

In the words of William F Geist, most consequential choices involve shades of gray, and some fog is often useful in getting things done. This notion, though not subscribed to by all is by no means one that isn’t with its merit. A couple of years ago, the story of how a woman had fatally scalded her husband with hot oil while he slept garnered much attention and was well publicised. As is the case in such scenarios, there was no shortage of opinion. Some readily condemned the act whilst others chose to withhold from openly voicing their opinion on the matter. Either way, there is one question that must have run through the mind of all, vocal or silent. Why? Why would a person do something that can only be described as troubling? Was it as a result of provocation or perhaps something much deeper? Whatever the reason was, it resulted in the eventual demise of her spouse.  It was a real tragedy as is the loss of life always. Yet I also couldn’t help dwelling on the incident and other such similar ones. Can mankind truly ever be understood or expression of extreme emotion curbed? Just how much of life is not perfectly clear?

In this era, there are statistics about everything from global debt to infant mortality. By sector and/or geographical location. There are also statistic on crime, solved and cold cases, victims and perpetrators. There is the good and the bad of quite a lot if not everything in black and white. What about the middle ground, the places known as shades of gray, the areas that are not soo simple to pass judgement on. Or leap on to moral high ground, willingly condemning without having the full story, and sometimes, not even then. 

Quite a lot of us have entertained thoughts that had we acted upon, would have landed us in heaps of trouble, the kind that would make the front page of a media journal. And yet by the grace of God, we are not, unlike others. In a momentary fit of anger or ‘insanity’ lives are changed irreversibly. And on any given day, all that’s considered important is the crime and making the perpetrator answer the call of justice. Let us consider and explore a few scenarios, real and hypothetical.

Is it wrong for a woman who has conceived as a result of being violated by a group of men to consider the option of having an abortion? Yes the act of abortion is wrong but so are the circumstances of her pregnancy. If she decides not to carry through to term, does that make her inhumane or is she justified as she was the victim, violated and it is her body that would have to go through the process. Perhaps she believes that it is better not to have a child she could probably not grow to love or worse yet despise due to the circumstances of his/her conception. Is she justified? Ultimately, unless one has been through similar circumstances or knows of someone who has, we are not in a position to pass judgement. A simple uncomplicated yes or no does not apply as an easy fix is not available. She has to decide to separate what happened to her from the innocent life she carries within her and if she can then (which would be a very difficult process even with a support system of loving family and relatives around) then fate would have been considerably kinder.

Four men and a boy are stranded at sea for months and having gone through all of their provision and fearing death are driven to kill and eat the weakest of the bunch which happened to be the young boy who had become sickly. But not long after the lad had been killed and partly consumed, they were rescued and then put on trial when it became apparent what they had done. Cannibalism is a crime and they were sentenced.  What they did was borne out of desperation, one that pushed them to the point of discarding humane tendencies and tapping into their core survival instincts. So to play devil’s advocate for a minute, what would you have done in the exact same situation? Perhaps one would not have done quite what they did but we are thankful all the same that we have not been put to the test.

What would it be like to be truly invulnerable to the vices and struggles of everyday life and the emotional and psychological upheaval that accompany it? Imagine being in complete control of all our emotions and act in the ‘right’ way all the time. In that case, there would be no middle ground. Yet we do not and are emotions run wild all too often.

Everyday, in every aspect of our lives, we are inevitably faced with situations and eventual choices. The ones we ultimately make define us. Some lead into the murky waters, the potential ‘gray’ areas that leave some either confused or baffled. How could s/he? Really? You’ve got to be kidding me! These are just some of the reactions that actions could generate. Diverse and different. There is a reason or a justification. Jeanette Wells said it best when she said ‘everything in life is gray, you know’